Posted on Tue 16 January 2018

time is not money

Many people like to claim “my time is worth the $/hour I could have earned”. It’s usually bull.

If you are paid hourly, it is 95% likely that your hours are set by your employer, not you. You can’t spend a random extra hour working to get another $X. If you work on a project basis, you’re going to end up working for all the hours that the project takes, regardless of whether that happens now or next week. And if you’re an independent professional/contractor, like a therapist or a plumber, your limits are the work that comes in and the work that you’re willing to take — they have to line up, you can’t decide that Wilson needs to have a drain unclogged right now or that Sandra needs to talk to you tonight.

If you are paid a salary, it is 98% likely that extra hours spent working reduce your $/hour, not increase it. Do you have authority to spend overtime at will? Do you have a bonus that is likely to be affected by an extra hour of work? Congrats, you’re in that 2% or so.

I urge people to value their time by the substitutions that they would be likely to make:

  • sleep. A lot of people would be very happy to get an extra hour of sleep.
  • time with family
  • time without family
  • hobbies
  • time with friends

Your time is worth the equivalent of what you would do with it otherwise, and that usually doesn’t have a dollar value. It does still have value.


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